Wednesday, March 26, 2008

24 hrs in NYC

3:00 am
2 hour train/subway ride from JFK ends in emergence in Central Park/knee-buckling awe of NYC/Maker's Mark consumption in Hudson Hotel. Hotel Motif? Mountain Lodge in SPACE.

8:00 am
Awakening. Walk to nearby cafe, consume yogurt-bran muffin.

10:30 am - 2:00 pm
Academic conferencing/Enlightenment.

2:00 pm
Return to hotel/nearly faint from starvation.

5:00 pm
Walk down Broadway through Times Square to Rockefeller Center. Observation impeded by famine-induced concave posture.

5:30 pm
Hastily consume street dog. (Field note: not sure what was on it - there was sauerkraut and some brown stuff, it was tasty, satisfied hunger).

6:00 pm
Search frantically for street receptacle (sic) to deposit mustard-laden napkin; find none, nearly wipe out in search of said receptacle (sic) in 630 (?) Fifth Avenue, aka where that Atlas sculpture is. (NOTE: new shoes incompatible with freshly-waxed marble floor).

6:15 pm
Achieve Nirvana at New York Public Library maps division (Specifically, Oxford Economic Atlas of the World1965, charting world climate, birthrate, and beer production).

6:30 pm
Overwhelmed by beauty of NYPL architecture

6:45 pm
Get in line for Empire State Building observation deck (Objective: observe view at dusk, for daylight visibility plus nighttime light show).

7:00 pm
Depart line after being informed it's another 45 minutes long

7:30 pm
Take seat at Terra Blues bar on Bleecker street, after failure to find Petey Pete. Watch competent solo blues set.

8:00 pm
Retrieved by Pete; eat pizza at Two Boots

..... pm
Drink Gin Gimlets at small, chic bar

--- pm
Drink Magic Hat Apricot Ale at Blue and Gold. Talk about film archival/miscellaneous science matters.

12:30 am
"Return to Hotel" on D train

1:30 am
Return to Hotel for real, after being lost in Brooklyn for 1 hour

2:00 am
NYC firefighters put out flaming trash can on 58th and 8th ave

2:30 am
Girls in satin dresses close DJ set at Hudson Hotel bar with an enthusiastic interpretation of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable"

3:00 am
Retire to room with remainder of vodka soda; Honey-Maid oatmeal raisin cookies

Friday, March 21, 2008

WeHo Field Guide: Sirius, the Dog Star

Last week, I took the dog for a 10 pm walk and noticed an unusually bright, twinkling object just left of the constellation Orion. Was it a plane?, I wondered. A UFO? A top secret government WMD?


It's Sirius, the Dog Star!

Sirius is the brightest object in the sky and is not one star but two; a binary star system consisting of a white main sequence star (Sirius A) and a faint white dwarf star (Sirius B). The Sirius star system is one of the closest to our own solar system.

Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major, Orion's canine hunting companion (thus its nickname, the Dog Star).

Orion and Canis Major are about to beat down Taurus.

The heliacal rising of Sirius marked important events for early civilizations:

  • the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt (and the beginning of the Egyptian calendar year)
  • the hottest and dryest days of summer (aka 'Dog Days') in Ancient Greece
  • the beginning of winter in Polynesia, where it was an important tool for navigation (Sirius was known as Ka'ulua ("Queen of Heaven") in Hawaii, and was celebrated at the winter solstice.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WeHo Field Guide: Lavender

Spring has sprung in West Hollywood, and as the flowering plants around the neighborhood bloom, so does my curiosity about the treasures to be found within a two mile radius of my new home. So, in honor of the vernal equinox (yes, it's today), I'm compiling a West Hollywood Field Guide showcasing the natural wonders of the 'hood.

First up? Lavender.

Lavender is apparently a very popular landscaping plant in the neighborhood; there's a bush at nearly every other residence, and the scent of all of them combined is enough to overwhelm pedestrians to the point of light-headedness.


Some fun facts about lavender:

  • Lavender is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family
  • Lavender is native to the south Mediterranean, tropical Africa, and southeast India
  • Dried lavender can be used as potpourri -- or moth repellant!
  • Lavender oil (located in the bud of the plant) has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and was used in hospitals during WWI to disinfect floors, walls and other surfaces. Lavender oil is also rumored to relieve headaches, if applied to the temples.
  • Lavender oil can also heal acne (when diluted 1:10 with water) or soothe burns
  • Lavender produces tons of nectar, and is therefore popular among bees
  • It's also an allergen (which explains my perpetual state of stuffiness)
  • Lavender can grow almost anywhere, but thrives in rocky soil and dry, sunny climates

Miss Janet of Spira

I just came across this truly remarkable Hype Williams video for Janet Jackson's "Call on Me," which was clearly influenced by Final Fantasy X and/or X-2.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Attention East Coast Readers:

I will be in your hood next week (and by your hood I mean New York City -- that's where y'all live, right?). So if you have any suggestions for what to see/eat/drink while I'm there, throw them my way.

Welcome to My Laboratory: Space Crystals, Pt. III

The space crystals finally grew, but they did not grow far, nor wide.

Rather, they grew a few millimeters in length and fused into a Kool-Aid orange biscuit.



But what did I expect for $10? I mean, really? This?


Some facts about crystals:

-- Crystals are solids in which "the constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions."

-- The word "crystal" came from the Greek word "krystallos," which means clear ice.

-- Some people believe crystals have healing powers. Like Amanda, from America's Next Top Model. But not Jesus.

-- The name "Crystal" peaked in popularity in the 1980s.